What is Raw Honey and How to Tell Raw Honey Apart from Other Honey

Loaded with enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants, raw honey has many beneficial health properties. But what is raw honey and how does it differ from other honeys?

Raw honey is not pasteurized. 

We tend to think of pasteurization as a process that protects food from going off. However, although this works for milk, this is not the case with honey. Raw honey is naturally antibacterial and stays perfectly safe to eat, even after thousands of years. So why do we pasteurize honey at all? The reason has to do with supermarket shelf-life.

Honey is pasteurized to kill off any yeast that might cause fermentation. Pasteurization also slows down the granulation process, so the honey stays runny for longer. Unfortunately, pasteurization involves heating the honey, sometimes up to 70° celsius. This has a very negative effect on the honey’s natural goodness. Heating destroys enzymes and microorganisms, and damages vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. These are precisely the things that make honey so good for us. So, processing honey in this way is not such a brilliant idea after all. 

raw nz honey being collected by honey bees

Raw honey is not over-filtered — Keeping in all the good stuff

Raw honey is lightly filtered, just to remove any large pieces of honeycomb or wax pieces. But tiny particles of bee pollen and bee propolis remain behind. Both of these are very good for human health.

Bee pollen has many health benefits and researchers are busy finding out even more about this highly complex product. Its specific therapeutic benefits depend on the type of bee and flora. No wonder some people are calling it a superfood.

Bee propolis is a powerful antimicrobial substance used by bees to line their nest cavities and repair the honeycomb. Bee propolis is used in natural medicines to boost immune support. We are still coming to understand the benefits of this extraordinary substance as time goes on.

raw honey dripping from honeycomb

Many raw honeys will crystallize over time 

An easy way to detect raw honey is to look for tiny, granular crystals. While some honeys, like Honeydew, stay naturally runny, honeys that contain pollen will crystallise over time. This is not a sign of deterioration. Rather, it’s a great sign that your honey has had minimal processing, just like nature intended. 

The crystallisation of honey is a natural phenomenon that occurs after a period of time where the glucose sugars separate from the water content and form tiny crystals. These small crystals cling to the particles of bee pollen and grow. 

Crystallisation eventually changes the consistency of honey, turning it into a semi solid-state. If you prefer your honey runny, just pop the jar into a bowl of warm water and stir gently. Storing honey out of direct sunlight also helps to slow the crystallization process.

Raw Honey only ever contains honey

If the label says raw, you can be confident that it doesn’t contain any additives. While some processed honeys contain added sugar or rice syrup, raw honey is just honey. Pure, natural honey — that’s it. 

Is Raw honey organic? 

Raw honey is not necessarily organic, since the term ‘organic’ relates to the certification of the farmland where the bees forage. Bees that forage in the wilderness cannot be said to produce organic honey, even though there is little to no spraying of chemicals in those areas. 

new zealand beehives full of raw honey

In Conclusion

There are certainly many reasons to choose raw honey. And if you buy from beekeepers who know their craft and love their bees, then you know you are getting a top-quality product. Honey which is produced sustainably is not just the best choice for you and your family, it’s the best choice for our environment too.

If you’re looking for a quality source of raw & unpasteurised honey check out the Mountain Valley Honey range of raw New Zealand Honey.

We keep processing to a minimum to ensure our honey retains all it’s natural goodness, just like nature intended.

We also go to great lengths to ensure our bees are happy and healthy all year round – it’s the little things that count.

raw honey from new zealand including manuka honey
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